An interview with Caroline Williams, SVP of EMEA Agency Operations at George P. Johnson and Danielle Rodgers, ERP Product Manager at Project Worldwide
A hub of creativity, Project Worldwide is home to a multitude of agencies pushing the boundaries of marketing innovation. George P. Johnson, a key player in this creative network, is recognized for their expertise in experience marketing that brings brands to life in memorable ways.
A 100% employee-owned agency network, Project Worldwide's 14 diverse agencies employ over 2,000 talented individuals across 42 markets around the world. George P. Johnson (GPJ), rooted in Detroit but with a robust global presence, is a testament to this agency network’s dedication to marketing excellence. GPJ's journey from Detroit to international acclaim showcases their innovative approach to event marketing and strategic brand experiences.
From its early beginnings in Motor City, George P. Johnson has grown into an industry leader, earning praise for their show-stopping events with prestigious clients like Salesforce, Google, IBM and Coca-Cola. Their work sets a high standard for creativity and excellence in the marketing landscape.
Known for its innovative event marketing and experiential design, this award-winning agency specializes in creating interactive experiences that deeply engage audiences. Whether it's a captivating product launch, a dynamic trade show booth, or a memorable corporate event, GPJ pushes the envelope for its clients.
“I remember being introduced to Deltek WorkBook back in 2018 and thinking this is exactly what we need.”
– Caroline Williams, SVP of EMEA Operations at George P. Johnson
The Industry ERP Journey Continues
Since adopting Deltek WorkBook in the U.S. and Australia more than five years ago, Project Worldwide continues its implementation journey, seeking consistency and collaboration across its agency network − striving to encourage individual companies to manage their workflows in a manner that aligns best with their creative processes. In April 2022, George P. Johnson began implementing their Deltek solution in EMEA, which included key offices in the UK, Germany and Dubai and finishing the rollout in just eight months.
The agency network values the WorkBook solution for its scheduling and quoting capabilities and the ease of seamlessly creating purchase orders and client invoices. These integrated capabilities make this cloud-based system user-friendly for many job teams within this fast-paced experiential marketing and live event industry.
"The main objective was to implement a resource management tool because the current ERP that we had been using lacked any formal scheduling task solution for some of our really large events. Because our team requires a lot of intricacy, they needed a tool to help capture all the information. So that's what drove our interest in Deltek," shared Danielle Rodgers, ERP Product Manager at Project Worldwide.
The GPJ team was incredibly excited to implement Deltek WorkBook in EMEA to help overcome the challenges associated with operating across different time zones, languages, cultures and currencies. They knew Deltek's industry-leading system could help them streamline operations, standardize processes, ensure consistent communication and enhance project visibility across all locations.
“Our team really likes Deltek’s all-in-one solution. They aren't just building schedules anymore; now they’re working on multiple pieces of their business – like creating a price quote, pulling a purchase order or billing a client – with just one tool, and it’s all connected,” explained Danielle.
A More Efficient Way of Working
George P. Johnson integrates technology and data analytics into their experiential marketing strategies. By leveraging cutting-edge technology such as augmented reality, virtual reality and interactive displays, they create an enhanced event experience. “Our business has evolved from fabrication and running tradeshows 20 years ago into an immersive experiential marketing agency, and so has the technology required to support us. Having a system that is proven to work for the agency world, definitely makes a big difference to us,” said Caroline Williams, SVP of EMEA Agency Operations at George P. Johnson.
Following the pandemic, GPJ had a huge rebuilding period, like much of the creative industry. As work began to improve, the agency had to focus on restaffing, including hiring new people from other agencies. Since transitioning to Deltek WorkBook, the growing team has not only embraced the benefits of using an agency management solution, but the feedback from many new team members is that the tool really helps them manage their business.
Another strategic benefit of WorkBook is that the solution is hosted in the cloud, allowing the GPJ team to work anytime from anywhere. “It's crucial for us as an agency to have remote access wherever we may be, especially for our teams who are onsite running events. It allows them to manage multiple projects and be more efficient instead of putting off work until they get back,” shared Caroline.
With these newfound efficiencies, GPJ continues to optimize their resources, enhance productivity and deliver exceptional client experiences. “We’ve been able to shift our teams’ focus, spending more time on the work that they need to do for their clients, rather than spending unnecessary time on manual work like pulling poorly formatted reports or trying to reconcile projects,” Caroline noted.
“Be open to changing some of your processes to best utilize the system. I've seen a lot of companies try to fit Deltek WorkBook into their current process, whereas if they were to use the flow of the system naturally, they might find that editing their process slightly would greatly improve their use of the system.”
– Danielle Rodgers, ERP Product Manager at Project Worldwide
The Benefit of Standardizing Processes
One critical element powering George P. Johnson's success is their ability to orchestrate complex projects seamlessly. The scale and intricacy of their projects necessitate a sophisticated approach to project management and resource allocation and the vital role a comprehensive agency management solution plays. With Deltek WorkBook, the team can cater to each country's unique operation requirements, simultaneously enhancing their global operations and elevating their creative pursuits.
For Project Worldwide, there are many benefits that come from standardizing their project-based ERP solution but understand it’s not a one-size-fits all approach. “While having consistency across our systems and the globe would be beautiful, as a creative network, it's also important to allow each agency to use the tools that are going to suit their business the best,“ Danelle explained.
“With Deltek WorkBook, we strive to keep things consistent at a system level via system variables. However, we can help each agency tailor things a little bit more to their business processes by customizing dimension settings at a company level. That way, they can use the system in the same way that everybody else is, but the little pieces of information essential to their day-to-day and specific job characteristics can be tailored directly to them," shared Danielle.
Also noting, “It’s been really beneficial to see the story behind a job, even things as nitty gritty as looking into changes on a specific task. Now, with WorkBook, if someone has questions, we have the ability to dive in and see all of the actions. It’s a nice change of pace from the older system where we didn't have such a detailed change log for audit purposes.”
But it’s not just Project Worldwide’s IT team that benefits from having a singular system across their business; the employees using the solution are also reaping the benefits. “Since all the data is real-time, our teams can see it in the system and understand the status of their projects. And more importantly, our management teams have that ability to make informed decisions. Now that we have everything in one system, we can see the gaps we didn’t even realize before,” said Caroline. As a result of implementing Deltek WorkBook in GPJ EMEA, the business has experienced increased visibility into resource management, utilization rates, time entry and job lifecycle workflows.
It's been almost a year since the EMEA team completed their implementation of Deltek, and while they’ve seen immediate impacts, the team realizes there is still so much potential. “The more we use the tool, the more we learn. We're tailoring our workflows and processes based on how the system provides information output and putting more effective things in place that weren't there before. Thankfully we've had so much support from our corporate IT and financial teams who have gotten to know the system before the EMEA rollout,” Caroline explained.
A Team of Committed Partners
Implementing Deltek WorkBook in the GPJ EMEA region has been the next step toward achieving global collaboration amongst GPJ offices. While the decision to implement in the UK, Germany and Dubai posed some interesting new challenges, including governmental tax reporting requirements and multi-currency reporting. With Deltek's help, overcoming those challenges has become one of the biggest highlights of the complex project.
Having the ability to quote jobs in multiple currencies was a key requirement for GPJ UK, and because of this, Deltek took the teams’ feedback into consideration and delivered enhancements that made the implementation possible. “Over the last five years that I have been involved, there have always been open lines of communication with our Deltek services team. It's nice to know that we can get our issues looked at quickly, so we never really feel like we're on an island,” recalled Danielle.
In addition, Project Worldwide’s implementation partner Tangram, has been instrumental in helping build reporting solutions by collecting data sets to overcome the governmental tax reporting requirements. “Tangram has a wealth of expertise in implementing systems on a global scale. They can navigate the intricacies of different regulations, languages and business practices, ensuring a smooth and efficient integration tailored to the unique needs of each region. Their deep understanding of the system ensures optimal customization, maximizing its potential for each business unit within George P. Johnson's global network,” Danielle explained.
“Let’s face it when it comes to implementation, one office is a challenge, which is why I'm really proud the teams across our three EMEA offices have been able to do this. Yes, we're still learning, and we're still on the journey, but it's made such an impact on our business and our teams,” Caroline shared.
Adding, an integration partner like Tangram has also played a vital role in facilitating user adoption of Deltek WorkBook. "They provided us with comprehensive training, support and change management strategies, ensuring that GPJ's teams across different regions understood the new system and supported it effectively. By tailoring the system to meet the specific needs of various teams and addressing any concerns promptly, Tangram helped our agency embrace the new technology."
“Working with Tangram and Deltek has been invaluable to us. They inherently understand the challenges agencies face when embarking on the whole implementation, helping us realize what we didn't know − and continue to be true partners to us,” said Caroline.
Today, nearly 1,400 GPJ employees are using Deltek WorkBook in 10 geographic locations − including the 270+ users added within the last year, in four different countries. Following the successful launch in EMEA, the team is excited to continue its journey by rolling out the system to more agencies in Japan and India next year.
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